Secret #2: Create the right systems

I talk to a lot of cleaning business owners and very few of them have figured out how to have a business that runs itself AND makes the owner a lot of money. Most of the people I talk to either don’t make enough, or work too hard, or don’t make enough AND they work too hard. Guess what? To be successful, you do not have to work day and night.

The 3 key things

As a reminder, there are three key things I’m covering in this series. Once I mastered these three things, I realized I could create a cleaning business that runs without me and pays me very well.

  1. The right mindset
  2. The right systems
  3. The right team

The right systems

A friend of mine once said, “Everybody has systems in place, but most of the time they just have the wrong ones.” The right systems are critical to your success. Not talent, capital, charisma, or an academic degree. To achieve freedom from your business, you need to have a good structure in place, a system.

I have discovered that there are five critical systems that you must get right in order to have both freedom and prosperity, to make more money and spend less time working.

Profit system

I have been teaching the “Profit first” approach to business long before Mike Michalowicz’s book existed. Your business model might be different than the one that I teach but you need to have a profit model that insures you’re making money. We follow the 55-25-20 profit formula:

  • 55% spent on Cost of Goods (COGS)/ cleaning wages and labor burden
  • 25% spent on overhead, so all other expenses to operate the business like office rent, utilities, marketing, administrative salaries, supplies, etc.
  • 20% goes to the owner as income and profit.

This is a very specific formula with a very intentional approach to profit. If you spend all your revenue on expenses and overhead then you’ll end up with the “Wishin’ and Hopin’ Profit Model” that is a profit lottery most people lose.

So the first system you must set up and protect is your profit system.

Staffing system

People are like snowflakes—there are no two who are alike! So how do you systemize something as complex as finding the right staff? Here’s the trick: you don’t. Stop looking for the right people, the perfect employees. Start being the right job, the perfect place for people to want to work.

Most businesses have this backwards. They look for the right workers, but they need to learn to become the right job that people want to work for. Most people build their business around the customer, but my approach is to build the business around the employee. But not just any employee— the best people, the right employees. And we have the highest employee retention of any cleaning company I know. Not by accident or coincidence, it’s a system. Our employee-first approach to business is our system.

The first step to having long-term, happy employees is to create an employee-first company with an employee-first culture. This is the opposite of what most business owners think, but you will not attract A-Team members with a C-Team culture and D-Team wage structure. Pay well, and if you have your profit-first system in place, you will have the funds to do so.

Create a culture of “Wow” in your business for your employees. Give recognition for milestones like perfect attendance records, years of service, positive online reviews, and customer referrals. It’s not too late or too hard to create an amazing employee culture. You also must pay your employees really well, which you can do with the right profit system in place. And create pay incentives that reward your A-Team players for stellar work.

Training system

Training is crucial—you can’t wing it. I’m fanatic about the Speed Cleaning system that provides high quality cleaning in the most efficient manner. Training is a 3-legged stool and most companies’ training programs are propped up on only one leg: training the cleaner. The other two legs are to train the owner and the trainer.

Whether you use my Speed Cleaning system or you find another one you like, you must train all three people in the company: the owner, the trainer, and the cleaner.

Branding and marketing system

With the other systems in place, you need a branding and marketing strategy in order to grow. Strategy is different from tactics which can come and go (think Yellow Pages advertising versus Facebook advertising). A systematized, strategic approach to branding and marketing is how you will grow your business and thrive.

Strategy is understanding why people buy and how to find the right clients, the high-paying repeat clients who live in your service area and are aligned with your values. Marketing strategy is a system.

A great source for marketing strategy and tactics is Marcus Sheridan’s book, They Ask, You Answer. This covers a lot of great strategy and the principles can be applied even when the tactics shift.

No one type of marketing is the silver bullet—you need many different types and combinations, with layers and repetition to get the best results.

Sales conversion system

All the marketing in the world won’t help if you can’t close the sale or if you can’t close the sale at top dollar. Anyone can convert a sale if you are the lowest-priced provider. Can you convert at the same price points as your franchised competitors? If you’re not the cheapest deal in town, there is no advantage to being in the middle so you might as well be the most expensive.

Do a market survey every six months to see what you should be charging compared to your competitors. Implement speed cleaning and incentive pay to make sure your staff is efficient. Then implement sound sales strategies for winning the sale. I teach Brian Tracy’s sales success formula, tailored to our industry. His books and sales skills are world-renowned.

Charge top dollar and stop trying to be budget-friendly. Just get better at your sales-closing skills!

Track and Measure everything. You have to know your customer acquisition cost in order to set and reach your growth goals.

That’s it. If you automate and systematize these critical functions in your business you can have a business that makes a lot of money and that doesn’t need you there all the time. So if you want to make more money and work less, these are the five critical systems you have to get running like a well-oiled machine.

Next step: find a mentor! Whether you work with me or with someone else, find someone to mentor you. Read great books. Learn, learn, learn. Are you ready to grow your business and get out of the field? Do you want to join my mop-free millionaires club? Join my Cleaning Business Fundamentals group and take the first steps towards freedom.